Q&A With Seleni Cruz

Seleni has been working on conservation in Mexico and northern Central America since 2013. During her time with The Nature Conservancy, she worked on various sustainable fisheries management projects including design of marine protected areas, economic alternatives, seaweed aquaculture, traceability and adaptive management framework. She has experience collaborating with a diverse group of stakeholders, government agencies, NGOs, local communities and the private sector. 
Seleni is a currently a graduate student at the Bren School, University of California Santa Barbara pursuing a specialization in coastal marine resource management and corporate environmental management as a Latin American Fisheries Fellow.
Seleni is joining us as an intern for the summer of 2018. 

Q: How did you find your way into marine issues? Why seafood?

I dove into marine issues and seafood during my time with The Nature Conservancy in the Mesoamerican Reef region after having completed an undergraduate degree in Natural Resource Management. Interestingly, I initially joined TNC in pursuit of a career in forest management. Over time my interests shifted completely to marine issues including marine protected areas, economic alternatives and sustainable seafood. Coming from a relatively small country, Belize, of which most of the population is dependent on marine resources, I became increasingly interested in market based incentives that drive fishing industries-- such as fishers, governments, buyers, and consumers to sustainably manage resources. 


Q: Interest in seafood sustainability and traceability has grown in recent years. Why do you think that is?

I like to think it was inevitable. We are becoming a society that is more conscientious of our footprint (though maybe not as fast and revolutionary as we’d like). This combined with the threat to livelihoods and economies of declining fish stocks has driven this increased interest in seafood sustainability and traceability in the recent years. As society becomes more educated and informed there has been an increased demand for sustainable products, for which we are willing to pay a premium. In response to creating and capturing some of this premium value and while also addressing social and ecological impacts the development of innovative technologies and methods of data collection has advanced significantly. These technologies and methods not only inform the management of resources but also produce storied fish--connecting consumers to where and how their seafood was harvested.


Q: What were you doing before you joined Future of Fish?

I am currently a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara pursuing a specialization in coastal marine resource management and corporate environmental management. The program entails completing a summer internship for which I am joining the Future of Fish team. 
Prior to the graduate program I spent 4 years working for TNC based in Belize. While I held various positions within the organization most of my time was allotted under the Oceans program. The program focused on a suite of management interventions including marine protected areas (specifically replenishment zones) in Belize and the broader Mesoamerican Reef, development of economic alternatives with fishing communities focusing on seaweed aquaculture and informing national adaptive management of fisheries which included seafood sustainability and traceability. It was never a dull day!


Q: What most attracted you to working with Future of Fish?

I initially came across Future of Fish while working on the traceability project in Belize. The partnership and the people were great! When Charles got in touch with summer internship proposals it was an easy response. I am looking forward to learning more about the organization’s problem solving approach and the fishery development model-- as well as, working with an incredibly diverse team.

Q: What are you most looking forward to doing in the next year?

Completing my graduate research! My team and I are working with a community based organization in Mexico, Community and Biodiversity (also called COBI for its Spanish name Communidad y Biodiversidad) to assess the cost of delayed management intervention on social, political and biological capital in the Midriff Islands region, Gulf of California.